HL Deb 18 March 1807 vol 9 cc147-9
Lord Grenville

said, that in consequence of what had passed in the late discussion of this measure, and of the consideration which he had since been enabled to give to the subject, he thought it would be more advisable to empower the committee to separate all that part of the bill which related to trial by jury, from the other parts which related to the division of the court of session into three chambers, and the formation of a court of review. He thought this mode would be better than that of which notice had been given on the former night of discussion by a noble and learned lord, namely, to strike out in the committee all the clauses which related to trial by jury, as, if this latter mode was adopted, it might lead to a supposition that it was intended to abandon altogether the proposed introduction of trial by jury. On the contrary, he hoped that that part of the plan would ultimately be adopted by their lordships. As, however, there was considerable difference with respect to the means of carrying this desirable object into effect, and as, with respect to the division of the court of session into three chambers, there was scarcely any difference of opinion, and but little on the subject of the formation of the court of review, these parts of the plan might be adopted with much less delay, if considered in a separate bill, than if they remained incorporated with the clauses relating to trial by jury. He should therefore move to postpone the committee to Monday, intending, on that day, to move the instruction which he had before stated, and in the consideration of that part of the subject respecting the division of the court of session and the court of review, it was his intention to propose several amendments.

Lord Eldon

thanked the noble lord for having thus given farther time for the consideration of that part of the subject which was involved in considerable difficulty, namely, the trial by jury. He had no doubt that the trial by jury might, in some cases, be beneficially introduced into Scotland; but great consideration would be required with respect to the means of carrying it into effect, in order that it might not produce injury instead of good. With respect to the other part of the subject, he would give it every consideration in his power, and en deavour to come to that result, which, whilst in his judgment it would tend to remedy the evil that existed, would not violate the act of union. He doubted whether the court of review should not be rather sought in the chambers of the court of session, similar to our court of exchequer-chamber, with relation to the courts in Westminster-hall, than rendered a distinct court superior to the court of session, which he was inclined to think not consistent with the articles of union.

The Lord Chancellor

declined entering at present into a detailed consideration of the subject, but he had no doubt that in the proper stage of the bill he should be able to convince their lordships that the difficulties in the way of the introduction of trial by jury in civil cases into Scotland were much less than were apprehended; that, on the contrary, it would be comparatively an easy task, whilst at the same time it would be a most beneficial measure to that country.

Lord Melville

merely wished to throw out for consideration the necessity which in his opinion existed of adopting means to bring causes to greater maturity in the outer house, without which he thought the proposed measure would not produce any thing like the beneficial effect expected from it. With this view he thought it would be more advisable to have only two chambers in the inner house, whose sole business it should be to review the decisions given in the outer house, where, from the larger portion of time allowed to the judges for transacting business, that business might be done well. If, however, it was determined to have three chambers, he thought that one of those chambers should be allotted solely to the business of the outer house, in which case, from the single responsibility attached to the judges, every thing that could result from efficiency and from solemnity of decision might be expected. His only object was, that the measure should undergo the most serious and attentive discussion.

The Earl of Lauderdale rose

chiefly for the purpose of doing away any impression that might result from what had been said by the noble viscount, that his noble friend, who had proposed the measure, had not given to it the most anxious consideration. He agreed with the noble viscount in the necessity of adopting some means of doing the business in the outer house in a better manner, as it had been calculated that a lord of session, in consequence of the multiplicity of other business, had only 63 hours in the year to allot to that in the outer house. This, however, had been provided for in the present plan, by which (the three chambers only sitting alternately) 8 judges might always be allotted to the business of the outer house, whilst, according to the proposition of the noble viscount, only five could sit there.—After some further conversation, the committee was postponed to Monday, for which day the lords were ordered to be summoned.